Before I had the chance to greet anyone at church this morning I already had steam coming out my ears. When I pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The day before, my friend Sandy and I had planted 108 begonias in the church yard and already, less than 24 hours later, at least a dozen were missing. At first I thought the squirrels had been digging in the dirt, but when I investigated the crime scene further it was obvious that someone had come along and stolen the flowers.
Can you believe that?! Now, this is an urban congregation and we have had problems with things being stolen through the years. We’ve already learned not to put flowers out in pots because the entire pot will disappear. And we can’t leave Christmas wreathes hanging on the doors or people will help themselves to the free decorations. But making off with flowers that have been planted in the ground in front of a church? Oh, come on!
Well, let me tell you, I was in an S.N.I.T. while I prepared the sanctuary for the 8:30 service. The first few people who entered the building got an ear-full. I even took them outside to point out the pitiful little gaps in the ground.
The next person who walked in the door was about to hear the news, too, but, before I could start in, she threw her arms around me and wept. I had been so wrapped up in my own little morning drama that I completely forgot about her husband's appointment to see an oncologist last week. But her tears reminded me. “It’s cancer,” she said. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer.
At that moment, while I enveloped her sobbing body with my arms, I remembered what I had preached about on Easter morning. I had proclaimed that Easter isn’t about a gaping hole in the ground; it’s about our encounter with the risen Christ. And while I was busy whining about the empty little holes in the flower garden, my dear friend was crying her eyes out over a loss that was beyond anything she had ever experienced in her life. She didn’t need to see a hole in the ground; she needed to see Jesus. She needed to know the power of the resurrection that comes to us just when all our hopes have been ripped to shreds.